Thursday, 02 May 2019 17:22

From Auto Body Tech to Teacher & Back Again: The Felix Cano Story

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Geronimo Medrano (left) won the SkillUSA National Championships in 2000 under the tutelage of Felix Cano. Geronimo Medrano (left) won the SkillUSA National Championships in 2000 under the tutelage of Felix Cano.



As he learned the ins and outs of being a collision repair instructor, Cano had SkillsUSA in his rear view mirror the entire time. SkillsUSA is a national membership association serving high school, college and middle school students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including collision repair. It is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps each student excel.


More than 340,000 students and advisors join SkillsUSA each year, organized into more than 19,000 local chapters and 52 state and territorial associations. In 2017--18, 19,500 teachers served as professional members and SkillsUSA advisors. Combining alumni membership, the total number reached annually is higher than 421,000. SkillsUSA has served more than 13.5 million members since its founding in 1965.


More than 600 business, industry and labor organizations actively support SkillsUSA at the national level through financial aid, in-kind contributions and involvement of their people in SkillsUSA activities. Many more work directly with state associations and local chapters. Commitment by industry to the annual national SkillsUSA Championships is valued at more than $36 million.


One of Cano’s first students was Hector Martinez, who won state the first year, but a technicality kept him from going to nationals. During his second year, Martinez finished second in state, just like Cano did.


In 2000, Cano finally found his collision star, a student named Geronimo Medrano, he said.


“I knew right away that this kid was special. He won the district competition and then took the gold at the state level. But, then he stopped coming to school,” he said.


In a state of shock, Cano went to Medrano’s house to find out why he wasn’t attending school.


“I found out that his family was going through some unfortunate situations, and his father was out of his life. That meant that Geronimo would need to quit school to financially help his family. I told his mother that her son was going to be representing the entire state of Texas at the nationals, and she started crying. I felt just terrible because here was this incredible student, but he wasn’t going to compete and he probably wasn’t going to graduate either,” Cano said.

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